Lawyer Anna Mallia has filed a constitutional court application over the recent appointment of four individuals to the judicial bench.
Mallia is claiming that the Judicial Appointments Committee tasked with drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates went “ultra vires”, which means that it went beyond its powers, with one committee member also applying for the post.
Magistrate Gabriella Vella, who was not one of the four appointed, had initially abstained from the board when deciding to apply to become a judge.
However, no one replaced her, with the committee taking it upon themselves to choose a regulation. Interviews with potential candidates then took place without a magistrate present.
This, she claims, allowed the selection board to create a set of ad-hoc regulations to deal with the discrepancy.
Should Mallia win her claim, the appointments would be scrapped and the selection process would have to begin from the start.
Mallia, who is a veteran lawyer and columnist, has tried in the past to become a member of the judiciary in 2018. However, the JAC rejected her application. The reasons for doing so were kept secret.
At the time, sources claimed that her political comments while as an adjudicator of the Small Claims Tribunal was an issue. The judiciary’s code of ethics precludes judges and magistrates from expressing opinions in public through any form of mass media including newspapers and TV. This applies to adjudicators.
More recently, she was in the news as one of the lawyers of Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination. On 15th April 2021, Mallia, on behalf of Fenech, helped reduce a €2.1 million garnishee order issued over a claim for damages by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family.
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